Filing a “Great American” tooth pattern

The most common long saw found in UK is the Great American  pattern. Because the tooth pattern repeats only on each 6th tooth, I have found it hard to remember what shape I am to file. If you need files I sell them here.

To create the correct tooth geometry I find these steps useful:

  • Mark each alternate middle-tooth on one side
  • Turn the saw over and repeat using a different colour
  • number the teeth

Alternate middle teeth on the ‘red’ side of Flinn Garlick saw
Alternate middle teeth on the ‘green’ side of Flinn Garlick saw

If you are new to filing this pattern of saw I suggest you number or use a different colour chalk on each tooth from 1 to 6 because that makes the repeating pattern more obvious.

I start at the right-hand end and work toward my left . Having filed a left-hand face of a tooth #5 then I move left to the next #5 and repeat.

file left face of #5
push file in direction of arrow…
…now move to left and file in direction of arrow

I file all the left-hand faces of teeth numbered #5 right to the end of the saw. Then I start again & this time file the right-hand face of the #5.

push file in direction of arrow over #5… move to left and file in direction of arrow over #5

Because #5 is a middle tooth its top gets smaller as you file each face. Keep it equilateral and stop while you can still see a flat on the top. Use a finer file – or emery paper – to make a smoother edge.

Now file all the teeth marked #1 and then all the teeth marked #3. Because this saw has square gullets the tips of #3 and #1 are right-angled triangles.

If you have square gullets I would keep them square. Square is one less angle to think about and your saw will run more slowly but with less effort.

If you already have sloping gullets this is how to file them:

Especially on the Flinn Garlick ONE MAN CROSSCUT SAW – GREAT AMERICAN TOOTH I have found it challenging to understand which teeth are supposed to be filed and set in which direction. So get a marking pen or chalk – you’ll need it.

Few saws are shiny and bright like the one I show above. If it is dirty chalk will work better. Here is my chalk-sequence